Projects and planning

In the process of improving courts work and thereby achiving the existing goal - restoring trust in courts through increasing the efficiency, Supreme Court of Cassation supported very important projects. Projects are realized by the Council of Europe Office in Belgrade, Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit – GIZ GmbH, US Department of Justice, US Embassy, “4 Digits Consulting - support to judiciary and public administration”, USAID's Separation of Powers Program – SPP and USAID's Judicial Reform and Government Accountability Project as (JRGA) as support in achieving the set gole.  

Study on sentencing practices in Serbia

The Supreme Court of Cassation (SCC) and the U.S. Justice Department/OPDAT are working to develop a project to conduct a study on the sentencing practices in Serbia for selected types of criminal offences and courts.

Creating database of appellate court opinions

The U.S. Justice Department/OPDAT is planning to support creation of a database of appellate court opinions by working on the existing small database of the SCC to include the large body of appellate court decisions. This would significantly contribute to harmonizing legal decisions and case law analysis in Serbia and would allow judges (and the general public) to review and consult online the opinions of their colleagues. The SCC has established better search parameters and criteria, a clear coding system for cases, and a system in which cases will be reviewed and upload.

Judicial bench book for criminal law judges

The Supreme Court and DOJ/OPDAT continue to work on the manual for trial judges (judicial bench book). An American federal judge and a practitioner from the U.S. Federal Judicial Training Centre are providing comments to the draft and gave a presentation at the Annual Judges Conference held in Vrnjacka banja in October 2015 on developing and use of the US Bench book, sentencing guidelines applied in the United States and legal writing.

Judicial Best Practices Study Visit to the United States (Washington D.C, Miami) – November 2015

The U.S. Justice Department/OPDAT organized a study visit on Judicial Best Practices to the U.S. for a group of 11 selected judges and representatives of the Serbian MOJ and the High Judicial Council. The visit was organized from October 31 to November 7, 2015 in Washington D.C. and Miami. The aim of the visit was to introduce key Serbian judicial officials to the best practices by U.S. judges in limiting issues of fact and law at trial, managing parties and their dockets properly, and handling proceedings in a more efficient manner, with the emphasis on the efficient management of judicial proceedings, legal analysis and decision making, and sentencing practices. The participants discussed also the U.S. process of selecting, training, evaluating, managing and disciplining of judges. As part of the visit, DOJ/OPDAT assisted in organizing of the meeting of the President of the Serbian Supreme Court of Cassation, Judge Milojevic, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Honorable John Roberts Jr.

Open World Exchange Program for Serbian Judges – October 2015

In cooperation with the Embassy`s Public Diplomacy Section, DOJ/OPDAT designed Open World exchange program for a group of Serbian judges entitled `Judicial Best Practices – Criminal Justice`. Judges were introduced to the U.S. judges conduct criminal trial proceedings such as the bail and detention hearings, pretrial conference and motion hearings, trials, sentencings, and appellate proceedings both in state and federal court.  The delegates visited Washington, D.C. and Knoxville, Tennessee from October 15-25, 2015.

Introduction of trial recording audio equipment in selected higher courts

The Supreme Court and DOJ/OPDAT continue to work on a pilot project of introduction of trial recording equipment to selected courts in Serbia. The equipment will be introduced in 18 courtrooms of the Higher Courts in four appellate districts (Belgrade, Novi Sad, Kragujevac, and Nis). The Dutch Embassy in Belgrade agreed to provide judges, court presidents, and court staff with initial training on the use of recording equipment and accompanying materials (e.g. manuals and use guidelines). The Serbian Ministry of Justice has hired an expert to help design procedures and protocols for the use of equipment. With the equipment delivered and installed, the Supreme Court and DOJ/OPDAT will conduct two rounds of assessment of the efficiency and efficacy of the use of the equipment. The pilot phase of the project will last until mid-2006.

Legal Writing

DOJ/OPDAT jointly with OSCE plans to create a program on legal writing for Serbian judges. The program will focus on improving methodology of writing decisions in accordance with the best practices of Serbian and international courts. The initial plans include organization of kick-off roundtable, creation of manual on legal writing and delivery of practical trainings to all criminal case judges.  The project will be supported by the Supreme Court of Cassation and will be implemented throughout 2016 and 2017.

“4 Digits Consulting – Judiciary and Public Sector Support” (“4DC”) is a non-government association, a part of the civil society sector in Serbia, established to support reform of the judiciary and public administration.  The organization’s members have extensive experience in Rule of Law projects, court efficiency and improved access to justice.

Thanks to the grant of U.S. Agency for International Development, in next two years “4 Digits Consulting – Judiciary and Public Sector Support”  is going to support further improvement of the judicial system in Serbia through the project “Institutional Strengthening of the High Court Council”. Project implementation started on October 1, 2015 and it’s going to last until October 2017.

The purpose of this two-year project is to provide support to institutions in Serbia, primarily to the High Court Council of the Republic of Serbia, Supreme Court of Cassation and Ministry of Justice in order to strengthen its institutional capacity and to improve judicial independence and efficiency as key pillars of the 2013-2018 National Judicial Reform Strategy in Serbia. Increased court efficiency as a general goal of the grant, should include several results: less expensive court procedures, savings made in administrative part of the court procedures, backlog reduction, case processing efficiency, improved court users satisfaction, better internal communication.

The goal of the cooperation with the Supreme Court of Cassation is to:

Strengthen court efficiency and modernization through increased judicial statistical and other innovations. It is planned to develop a new methodology for collection of courts’ statistical data, introduction of centralized statistics and strengthening capacities in analysis of statistical data.

Implementation of improved “e-filing” methodology in three pilot courts. This methodology enables the court users to communicate electronically with the courts, which in turn improve access to justice, speed-up court proceedings time, save the time and money on both sides, and increase transparency. New e-filing methodology will improve technical aspects of communication between parties and the courts.

Increase transparency and accessibility of the HCC and the courts through information andcommunications initiatives. The project will support presentation of court statistics and hearing scheduleon-line for all court users in Serbia, and broader.

Judicial Reform and Government Accountability Project

On May 3, 2011, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) began the Judicial Reform and Government Accountability (JRGA) Project in the Republic of Serbia. The Project works in close collaboration with counterparts and beneficiary organizations to disseminate and implement best practices to:

Strengthen the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, and the administration of justice in the Republic of Serbia;
Increase public awareness of reforms in the judicial sector;
Strengthen the capacities of government institutions, with a focus on Independent Agencies and civil society to detect and prevent corruption.

USAID’s Judicial Reform and Government Accountability (JRGA) Project is a five-year, 21.8 million USD initiative implemented by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) with support from Management Systems International and Development Professionals, Inc.

The Project consists of two components: Judicial Reform and Government Accountability.

The goals and results within these two components are supported through grants awarded by the Project.

Judicial Reform

The Project assists the Republic of Serbia in improving the efficiency and transparency of the administration of justice, increasing court responsiveness to the needs of justice system users, and in increasing public awareness of the roles and responsibilities of courts. Through direct project assistance to the Administrative Court, Higher Misdemeanor Court, and 45 Misdemeanor Courts, JRGA works to promote open, efficient, and responsive court operation.

Government Accountability

The Project assists the Republic of Serbia in strengthening the capacity of independent agencies and civil society organizations to promote open, accountable, and efficient government, fight corruption and poor administrative practices, and generate public demand for and participation in good governance. The Project supports the Anti-Corruption Agency, Ombudsperson, State Audit Institution, and Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection, and the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality.

Grants

The design and delivery of JRGA activities encourage active engagement of the civil sector in order to ensure a sustainable impact of the accomplished project results. The Project’s Grants Program funds civil society initiatives aimed at advancing efficiency and transparency in the administration of justice, supporting and advocating for the rule of law, encouraging a culture of respect for the law, and promoting good governance, official integrity, and anti-corruption measures.